SK Innovation invests in U.S. bioenergy startup Fulcrum to acquire waste gasification technology

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 13, 2022, 13:44 Updated : July 13, 2022, 13:44

[Courtesy of SK Innovation]

SEOUL -- SK Innovation, an intermediate holding company of SK Group, will invest $20 million in Fulcrum Bioenergy, a U.S. waste-to-fuel specialist that converts household garbage into low-carbon transportation fuels, to learn about waste gasification, which is seen as a promising technology in the waste-to-energy market.

Waste gasification is a chemical process that can help turn biomass into synthetic gas (syngas) for refinery use or power generation. It will become a relatively cheaper source of energy as landfill space becomes scarce around major cities.

SK Innovation (SKI) said it would join hands with Fulcrum to consider entering the Asian market with waste gasification technology and secure next-generation technologies for waste gasification. Fulcrum has built a commercial-scale facility that will convert household waste into sustainable aviation fuel, renewable diesel and renewable gasoline in Reno, Nevada.  

"SK Innovation will focus on the role of a holding company specializing in developing green portfolios and promote future growth by developing a circular economy and an eco-friendly portfolio centered on carbon-free and low-carbon energy," an unnamed SKI official said in a statement on July 13.

In waste gasification, oxygen is injected to decompose waste at high temperature and high pressure to produce syngas mainly composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It has the advantage of emitting less harmful substances than incineration. 

Fulcrum is the first American company to produce biofuel on a commercial scale. Fulcrum's bio-jet fuel was approved and certified as an alternative drop-in fuel for the aviation sector. A drop-in fuel is a synthetic and completely interchangeable substitute for conventional petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. 

In December 2021, SK Inc., the strategic investment arm of SK Group, teamed up with a domestic private equity fund to jointly invest $50 million in Fulcrum, as part of efforts to expand investments in green businesses and technologies.
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